I’m not sure if it’s a genuine testament to my social conscious or if it’s just a solid commitment to keeping my life challenging – whatever the reason, whenever possible, and particularly when running events (because they aren’t stressful enough right) I insist upon using local suppliers, social enterprise or otherwise curious businesses for my purchases. Usually this works out OK, sometimes it reminds me to breathe.
When recently producing an event I thought it would be a nice touch to have a community group provide the morning tea. I am not entirely confident to mention the name of the group but let’s say the group always makes me think of lovely and wise little old ladies chortling over tea and scones, and let’s call them – just for now the Regional Womens Assembly (RWA)
Three months prior to the event I phoned Clarice to book in the catering. I know that dealing with such businesses takes time and at that point time was on my side.
Clarice said it sounded OK, took down numbers and started throwing menu ideas at me “sandwiches” she said (note said, not asked).
Sounding like it may be a done deal I held myself back from saying “I hate freakin’ sandwiches” politely retorting “it’s morning tea Clarice, maybe something a little lighter”.
She said she’d call me back.
Two weeks later Jillian the Anglican Minister contacted me in a flap. One of her parishioners had tried to book the hall for catering in October and that couldn’t possibly happen because playgroup was already booked.
I imagined Minister Jillian as the Vicar of Dibley and despite the lack of Dawn French accent it did make the conversation go more smoothly. Eventually we realised that Minister Jillian’s Church hall was in fact by the round about, not the park and I had in fact mentioned the wrong religion to poor Clarice who turned out to be the confused parishioner.
Realising the Presbyterian Church would be my new target I phoned poor Clarice back and apologised for the mix up. I didn’t tell her that the religions were all the same to me but quite frankly I don’t think she would have cared anyway.
Clarice told me that during the past few weeks the RWA had its AGM “that’s our annual general meeting dear” and she was no longer the secretary. That meant she was no longer the right person to speak with about catering.
“How many people again?” she asked, clearly all her years of service had embedded some knee jerk reactions that would be hard to shake.
“Oh” she stopped, you could hear the penny drop. “You will have to check with the Presbyterian Church ladies auxiliary first because if they want to cater then the RWA cannot. You know… small towns” she said.
Luckily I did know.
Clarice had to go then as she was busy putting together what sounded like a very big pile of meeting minutes. I asked her before she hung up if she was pleased to step down from her role as secretary “well I am 80” she replied. “I’ve done my bit”.
Actually she sounded like the weight of the world had been taken from her shoulders. Still, she did offer to help once I worked out which team she would be working for. She also passed over a swag of other numbers of other ladies in the RWA who could help me.
I Googled the Presbyterian Church and every single entry led to disconnected numbers. Luckily the local Council had insight providing the right number. I reached the Minister himself. I asked the gentleman if his ladies may be interested in tickling the tastebuds of my audience for morning tea.
“Oh”. he wasn’t sure. I could hear the cogs turning.
“OH!” “I’ll ask my wife, she’s right here on the couch”. He said
I heard the conversation. I heard that she didn’t just scoff – she actually laughed.
“I think that’s a no” he said.
I confirmed “so the Presbyterian Church ladies auxiliary definitely does’t want this job and it’s OK for the RWA ladies to do it”.
“Yes” he told me with instructions for boiling water and utensils oblivious to the fact that I just wanted to book the freakin’ food, not butter the scones.
Next on the list was Mavis Brown, the incoming president of the RWA and the primary contact passed on by Clarice. Mavis was shocked I had phoned to ask for catering services. She told me that the request must go to a meeting and worried that the next meeting was just too close to the event and she couldn’t possibly get everyone together before then.
I curled into a semi-fetal position and started rocking. I resorted to name dropping “Clarice told me to get in touch with you”.
The magic word had been dropped. “Oh” said Mavis – “you are that job” “yes, we were talking about that the other day”. I smiled which she must have noticed because the conversation shifted tack at that point.
Mavis told me about having to visit Mackay soon to look after her grandkids and she was a bit worried now because they are teenagers. I told her to bake them some scones and teach them to knit and they will be OK. She didn’t seem to believe me.
Mavis asked me what kind of food I was looking for “healthy” I told her. Something like fruit, maybe some yoghurt. I could hear her grimace so threw in “how about some scones and slices” for good measure.
Martha Jackson is the person I need to phone next we agreed, but I couldn’t call until later because she doesn’t come home until dark.
I forgot to phone after dark.
To be continued